Independent eyes strategic investments after another year of record revenue and profit growth
London, United Kingdom – 24 February 2022 – The Independent today reports its financial results for the year ending 3 October 2021, its fifth straight year of revenue and operating profit growth.
· 139% increase in operating profit over the last two years, to £5.5m in FY20/21
· Revenue growth of 36% to £41.2m FY20/21 (FY19/20: £30.3m) with first six months of FY21/22 demonstrating strong trajectory
· Continued revenue diversification, with advertising on track to be less than 50% of Group income by end of FY21/22 as planned
· 122% revenue growth in Independent TV; 70% growth forecast for FY21/22
· Transactional eCommerce revenues grew +44% in FY20/21, building on IndyBest product and services affiliate proposition
· Investment in A2K (Anonymous to Known) strategy for reader engagement led to doubling of reader registrations to 1.8 million, on course to double again in FY21/22
· Over 40% of revenue came from outside the UK, with US and ROW traffic exceeding UK traffic each month and US newsroom staff planned to double
Record global growth
The Independent delivered record revenues and profits again in FY20/21, growing revenue 52% over the last two years despite the challenging international backdrop. The results further supported the business’ strategy of investing in content and data around the globe and building strategic partnerships to diversify and grow revenue.
Over 40% of revenue came from outside the UK market as The Independent continued to invest across geographies. As well as launching Independent Asia, the sixth foreign-market edition, the US editorial team is being doubled to 50 in the coming year, supported by similar growth in the commercial team, while Independent en Espanol continued to grow after its launch in FY20/21.
This financial growth and investment resulted in another strong year of reader engagement, including a record monthly audience of 128 million unique visitors in November 2020 and a monthly average of 96 million across the year, with more than 50% of this coming from non-UK markets.
As uncertainty about the future of cookies continues, The Independent has further diversified its revenue sources.
The group pivoted to prioritise first party data acquisition, investing in its A2K (Anonymous to Known) strategy for reader engagement to double registrations to 1.8 million, and increased reader revenue by 39% in FY20/21. Simplified registration forms and the growth of expert-led newsletters like Simon Calder’s Travel Week mean that registration is on track to double again in FY21/22.
The new IndyBest eCommerce proposition was built upon with new sponsored deals with top partner brands including Amazon Prime, Samsung and Sky, resulting in growth of 43% from transactional revenues. Investment in IndyBest will continue, with further forecast revenue growth of 41% in FY21/22.
The Group expanded Independent TV following its launch, bringing together all its video content and investing in new original programming to result in a 122% increase in revenue, with a forecast 70% increase in FY21/22. Strong licensing partnerships also led to a 21% increase in revenues from social media.
This diversification has put the publication on track to reach its longstanding goal of over half of revenue coming from non-advertising sources in FY21/22.
Building on the organic growth which this investment and diversification has produced, The Independent is now seeking strategic acquisition opportunities. These are likely to focus on sales automation, data and fulfilment solutions, to add to its existing market-leading operations.
John Paton, Chairman of Independent Digital News and Media said: “These results show yet again that The Independent is a global player, building readers and engagement across multiple markets. Thanks to our investment and diversification, we’ve had great organic growth for five years now, and in the coming year we’ll continue this, doubling the size of our US newsroom. Key to our growth is our continued investment in quality journalism. Our editorial staff has grown 53% in the last three years.
We have proven beyond a shadow of a doubt that quality digital journalism is a growing and profitable business. These results also mean we are poised to consider strategic acquisitions to build our commercial operation, another significant strategic step forward.”
Zach Leonard, CEO of Independent Digital News and Media added: “Last year we invested significantly to enrich our journalism and data capabilities, which underpinned record financial performance; early indicators suggest this continues in our new financial year. In addition to seeking strategic investments, The Independent will continue to invest in global expansion, new product development, such as the launch of a new Independent app, Independent TV expansion, and building on strategic content sales and advertising partnerships – all underpinned by our best-in-class data operation.